As I’m sure all of you reading this already know, Pink News have decided to cover Diana’s support for our group as a front-page story.
I thought I’d just give an explanation of the most obvious question: why we’ve opted for a paper petition rather than – in the day of the internet – an online one. I also hope to explain why all you reading this should make the effort to sign and help distribute our petition rather than just content yourselves with signing the range of online petitions already available.
Now in my view, earlier and much bigger campaigns against conversion therapy have attracted much support from the usual suspects, but these petitions – aside from a possible presentation to a secretary of state or other high-ranking figure – haven’t negotiated their way through Parliament or attracted nearly enough support from MPs.
So for us, there was from the beginning no question: we wanted a proper Parliamentary petition, so MPs could see clearly what their constituents thought. We were fortunate to live in the same constituency as such a dedicated and committed MP as Diana Johnson, who quickly agreed to formally submit the petition for us.
The ideal option would have been a hybrid between an Online E-Petition to the Commons and a Paper petition, but unfortunately the powers that be do not allow this. Ultimately – because we’re a local campaign – we opted for a paper one, but with a return address at the bottom so anyone in theory can help sign and distribute the petition for us.
I don’t regret this decision. Paper has allowed us to petition far and wide, across university campuses, gay pride parades and around Humberside, to reach many people who would have never thought of signing an online petition; people who weren’t part of campaigning groups’ mailing lists, and who didn’t even know gay conversion was a problem in the UK.
Paper also means, when Diana submits the petition, that MPs will physically see it. A huge paper batch of many, many signatures really sends a strong message which you really don’t get with E-Petitions to the Commons unless you get over 100,000 signatures. Next year, we have a guaranteed presence, for a short while, in the House of Commons.
We very much hope that this presence will build on, and lead to, extra things. So alongside the petition, we’re planning to extend our campaign inside Parliament in numerous ways. We’re currently in the process of contacting MPs about submitting an Early Day Motion against gay conversion in Britain to the House of Commons, and it’s even possible that one kind MP may kindly submit a Private Members’ Bill on it.
When all this is ironed out, we’ll be producing draft letters for constituents to send to their own MPs, asking that they sign the Early Day Motion, distribute the petition and support the Private Members’ Bill.
Until then, we’ll do our bit locally and across the country, but the true extent and breadth of this campaign is entirely up to the people reading this blog post. Even if you just print off a single sheet and have four family members sign it and post back, you’ll go a long way towards helping further our campaign.
But if you go one step further and petition around the streets, at gay pride parades and in university campuses, and even if you talk to complete strangers about the issue of gay conversion in the UK, you too will likely find that the vast majority in this country feel it holds no place in society today. Let’s make sure our MPs know it.